Everyone likes to have well-wishers around. Well-wishers are those who wish you well, right? But in doing so, do they offer you, as people often say, “well wishes”—or should it be “good wishes”?
Well is an irregular adverbial form of good. It derives from the Anglo-Saxon wel, meaning “according to one’s will.” When you do well, you accomplish something in a satisfactory or advantageous manner. When you do good, you perform a virtuous deed. When it’s an adjective, well most often means “healthy or cured of some illness.”
Believe it nor not, the reliable Second Edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary admits the noun well-wish with its built-in adjectival well as “a good and kindly wish.”
So go ahead and let your well-wishers, wish you well with their well-wishes if you wish. See if I care.
The Bard of Buffalo Bayou does not care either. He is carefree, not to mention meter-free, rhyme-free, and sense-free in most of his work.
Well, I saw an old well-wisher fall,
And I noticed as he fell,
This well-wisher didn’t mind at all--
For he fell into a wishing-well.
Well, the well was full of soapy water,
Which the well-wisher thought was swell,
For when the water in the well got hotter,
He could do his washing well.